Thursday, July 30, 2015

"He allowed us to stretch out"

A few fairly pertinent quotes I unearthed in my ever-growing Word document of Astral Weeks-related detritus. (This thing is massive; time to do some paring.) This one is from Bob Schwaid, Van Morrison's manager at the time of the album's recording. It's his reaction to Astral Weeks' overall sound.
At the time, I thought it was an avant-garde marriage of jazz and rock. Really it was a combination of Van's approach to what he thought to be jazz with folk, blues, gospel, and rock levels. At the time none of the us thought that it fitted into any category.
And this one is from Jay Berliner, the guitarist who appeared on half of Astral Weeks' eight tracks. Berliner discusses the album's much-discussed recording sessions.
In those days I was so busy that I had no idea what I was playing on. On the first session session I wasn't booked until 9 p.m. and so didn't play on "Cyprus Avenue" and "Madame George," which had been recorded earlier in the evening. I played a lot of classical guitar on those sessions and it was very unusual to play classical guitar in that context. What stood out in my mind was the fact that he allowed us to stretch out. We were used to playing to charts, but Van just played us the songs on his guitar and then told us to go ahead and play exactly what we felt.

1 comment:

  1. When's your book about Astral Weeks coming out? I tried to reserve a copy at Amazon, but they knew nothing about it.